But thanks to an immersive three-day camp and induction program, Gavin Bryce, principal of Queensland Academies, Creative Industries campus (QACI) happily reports these are issues he rarely needs to deal with.
The school is a selective entry high school accepting students from Year 10 and above.
Drawing together a diverse cohort of students to begin a new schooling experience has its challenges, the principal says.
“...all the students are coming from a diverse background, whether that be social and emotional, socio-economic, or private and public schools,” he explains.
In order to put students on the same page, QACI runs a three-day camp at the beginning of the year.
“The camp is about getting the opportunity to bring students in and understand the culture ... it’s about instilling the core values of what it is to be a QACI student, but also, what we are looking for in the way that they behave, the way that they handle themselves and the way that they learn... that’s where it brings in the understanding of respectful, to ourselves and to others,” Bryce says.
Right after students return from camp, having learnt leadership skills and the fundamentals of respectful relationships, they are immersed in a unique technology induction program.
Drawing on a partnership with Apple, the school brings in experts, some of whom work with the students on understanding the impact of cyber bullying and sexting.
An important part of the induction, Bryce says, is placing the onus on the students.
“We focus on leadership in it, not just the information sharing,” he says.
“So I’ve got one of our alumni students, Nicole Gibson, and she is in the mental heath space as well.
“So she comes back and works with our students on leadership ... which we find works extremely well because it’s not coming from a 40-year-old male standing up the front, it’s actually coming from a 22-, 23-, 24-year-old, who’s been through QACI, who understands it, who leads that.”
As the camp is also run by Year 11 students, rather than teachers, student leadership is something that is enforced from the get go.
This is core to the program, and has achieved great results, Bryce says.
“The students hold each other to account, it’s not the staff,” he says.
“So if there’s something that happens online, of a night or something, that is straight to me, students just come straight up because it’s not the QACI culture, to do that.
“So we do that in camp, we give them that, you know, ‘you are QACI, you are the gatekeepers as such’,” Bryce says.
Another pivotal part of the process is parent engagement.
“We engage the parents first up as well, we do an induction with our parents,” Bryce says.